‘They had a broken keyboard, I bought a broken keyboard’
• Thrift Shop
Song by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
That seems to be at the core of nostalgia in a post-pandemic world where we are looking at the past as a happy place and nostalgia is a selling pitch. The hipster, the millennial, the idealist, the nationalist. Everyone seems to be buying and selling nostalgia.
Nostalgia has been around for ages and it was a Swiss doctor, Johannes Hofer, who in 1688, coined a compound derived from the Greek nostro, meaning “home,” and algos, meaning “pain” and he used it to describe a medical condition that he had detected Swiss mercenary soldiers who were homesick.
In today’s world, nostalgia has a layered meaning and has bene used by political parties and brands and everyone else to create a collective yearning for an idealized, lost past seen through rose-tinted glasses. Future looks dreadful.
The present is unpleasant. We have a past and a yearning that serves as a deflection tactics.
In the post-pandemic world, nostalgia could even be a positive thing as coping mechanism.
We want a romanticized past to become our future. In a post pandemic world, we have returned to the past more than ever. The past here is a world before the pandemic, a place of happiness perhaps, of love, of togetherness. The dissatisfaction of the present makes us believe in a past that perhaps never was. The past is repackaged and resold to fit a growing nostalgia for a utopian past.
There is that longing for that “Once upon a time” memory and the things that are no longer functional in the sense that technology has rewritten the codes for those.
Since the pandemic started, nostalgia that takes us to a familiar space has been looked at as therapeutic, even as a way to beat loneliness.
How does one define the boundaries between “real” and “nostalgic” space?
What constitutes our political, collective and personal nostalgia?
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